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William J. Gradishar, MD, FACP, FASCO


ASCOBT 2023: Patient-Related Outcomes in the Treatment of Breast Cancer–Related Lymphedema

By: Sarah Lynch
Posted: Friday, September 1, 2023

A group of researchers aimed to discover the relationships between patient-reported outcomes and objective measurements in the 6-month period after axillary surgery for breast cancer–related lymphedema. According to a presentation by Anshumi Desai, MD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine/Jackson Memorial Hospital, and colleagues at the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Breakthrough meeting in Yokohama, Japan (Abstract 128), “breast cancer–related lymphedema affects quality of life, but there is no consensus regarding early detection and monitoring.”

“Patient-reported outcomes are important in assessing cancer survivor outcomes,” the investigators added. “LYMPHA [Lymphatic Microsurgical Preventive Healing Approach] and S-LYMPHA [Simplified LYMPHA] have reduced breast cancer–related lymphedema rates.”

The study included patients undergoing either axillary lymph node dissection or axillary radiation who completed three different questionnaires at baseline and at 6 months after surgery. Of the 39 patients analyzed, 31 had received neoadjuvant therapy, 13 had undergone lumpectomy, and 26 had undergone mastectomy. A total of 18 patients had breast reconstruction.

The patients were divided into three groups: (1) axillary lymph node dissection with no axillary radiation; (2) sentinel lymph node biopsy with axillary radiation therapy; (3) axillary lymph node dissection with axillary radiation therapy. None of the patients in the second or third groups had lymphedema, and the first group saw lower rates of lymphedema associated with LYMPHA or S-LYMPHA.

Overall, the preliminary results of this study seem to validate the use of patient-reported outcomes alongside objective measurements to assess and treat breast cancer–related lymphedema. LYMPHA and S-LYMPHA were shown to reduce lymphedema rates. However, future studies with larger sample sizes are necessary to identify the best patient-reported outcomes.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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